From Bach to Einstein and Beyond Port Townsend, March 3, 2013 Vladimir Chaloupka Professor of Physics Adjunct Professor, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies Adjunct Professor, School of Music (NOT for performance!) (and, BY FAR, the most modest professor at the UW) Advertissment: PHYS 216 / SIS 216: “Science and Society” Spring 2013 www.phys.washington.edu/users/vladi
From Bach to Einstein and Beyond Art of Fugue: Variations on Science, Music and Human Affairs Making a Coherent Whole out of Science, Music and Human Affairs Science, Music and Human Affairs, with Exuberance and Humility Two cheers for science and technology Dr. Chaloupka Sunday Service
Or: “Physics is Different” Its range covers the unimaginably small particles such as quarks and neutrinos, subject to the strange laws of Quantum mechanics, all the way to the unimaginably large structures such as clusters of galaxies, governed by the strange laws of General Relativity. And in the middle of that enormously wide range, there is the most complex object known to the human brain: Human brain producing Bach fugues (and Shakespeare, Rembrandt and …) as well as the mess we call Human Affairs, governed by laws of such complexity that Quantum Mechanics as well as General Relativity seem like a picnic in comparison. This will be our subject today.
Outline of Talk: Introduction The amazing consequences of E = mc2 The nature of Nothing So Physics is Different, but Why Two Cheers? The scales of Nature INTERMISSION Brief but Grand Tour of the Universe The Triple Art of J.S.Bach What about God? Conclusions and Sendoff
I. Physics is Different Consider a system of two particles • - for example the system (Earth + Moon): • A question for you: • m(Earth+Moon) = ? • m(Earth+Moon) = m(Earth)+m(Moon)? • But consider E=mc2: every bit of mass m has an energy of E=mc2 – and conversely, an energy E corresponds to a mass m=E/c2 (and c = 300,000 km/s is the speed of light). • And there is energy – gravity – between Earth and Moon (that keeps the Moon orbiting around Earth)
So reconsider the question: m(Earth+Moon) = m(Earth)+m(Moon)? m(Earth+Moon) < m(Earth)+m(Moon)? m(Earth+Moon) > m(Earth)+m(Moon)?
What is the mass of bound system: M -> m1 + m2 ? To separate m1 and m2 you must hit m2 (say, the Moon) with a (large) bat, and conservation of energy says: Energy(at beginning) = Energy(at end) Mc2 + E(binding) = m1c2 + m2c2 Therefore Mc2 = m1c2 + m2c2 - E(binding) M = m1 + m2 – E(binding)/c2 and M < m1+m2 !!! => For sufficiently strong binding M -> 0 !!! But consider more than two “particles”
=> even for same binding but more particles the effect gets more and more significant => could it be that M(Universe) = 0 ???????
Recent Physics Colloquium: (i.e. a “Secular Mass” each Monday afternoon) (usually something boring like “Measurement of antiproton-proton annihilations”) But one Monday it was one of our own faculty, talking about “Why is there Something rather than Nothing?” Conclusion: “Maybe there is Nothing, cleverly disguised as Something.” But wait: what is the nature of that Nothing?
A general Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (uncertainty of something)*(uncertainty of the rate of change of that something) cannot be smaller than ”10-34” (the “Planck” constant) Two far-reaching consequences: • Not only we cannot measure these two quantities at the same time, but it seems they don’t even EXIST at the same time. • What is vacuum? A state of minimum energy, ground state, state of zero fields What is the uncertainty on that? zero Therefore, what is the uncertainty on the rate of change? infinity => Quantum fluctuations of the vacuum (virtual particle-antiparticle pairs popping in and out, all the time)
So modern Physics not only tells us that Everything may be Nothing, but also that the Nothing – the Vacuum, is in fact very much Something, alive with virtual particles and antiparticles. So perhaps we may replace Macbeth’s “tale of sound and fury signifying nothing” (Shakespeare) by “The vacuum is a boiling sea of nothingness, full of sound and fury, signifying a great deal.” An anonymous physicist recall the co-founder of Quantum Physics, Niels Bohr: “There are two kinds of Truth: The opposite of an ordinary truth is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another great truth.”
Conclusions from Physics: Physics is Different: “Recent decades have taught us that physics is a magic window. It shows us the illusion that lies behind reality - and the reality that lies behind illusion. Its scope is immensely greater than we once realized. We are no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, or fields of force, or geometry, or even space and time. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.” J.A.Wheeler Cf. Einstein: “The most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is [it appears to be] comprehensible” – and that comprehensibility is something we neither understand nor deserve.
But Why Two Cheers? Einstein as Scientist, Musician and Prophet • Einstein as scientist: In 2005 we celebrated the Centenary of Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis • Einstein as musician: from a review: “Einstein plays excellently. However, his world-wide fame is undeserved. There are many violinists who are just as good.” • Einstein as prophet: “Nuclear weapons changed everything except our way of thinking.”
The Basic Problem • For the first time in human history, the capability of causing extreme harm is, or will soon be, in the hands of individuals or small groups. This is the 'Basic Problem'. The actual manifestation of the problem will come as an intentional or accidental misuse of our new powers. • Illustration: knowledge of nuclear physics is not sufficient to actually build a nuclear weapon (expense, detectability). • Contrast with molecular biology (which I love !!!)
the Basic Problem is a reflection of the Big Gap: the ever-increasing gap between the cumulative, exponential progress in science and technology on the one hand, and on the other hand, the lack of comparable progress in our ability to use our new technological tools thoughtfully and responsibly. • So: What Is To Be Done? Temper our Exuberance by Humility. (see the website)
Scales of Nature, as a preparation for the Grand Tour 1) Atomic scale: Imagine you are looking at an atom with magnification of 10,000,000,000. Then practically all the mass of the atom is in a speck of a small grain of sand, and the (nearly massless) electron(s) orbit at the distance of about 10 meters! The nearest atom is at about 20 meters. This is the structure of you as well as the chair you are sitting on, lead brick, Earth, …
2) astronomical scale: Imagine now that the Earth is as a speck of a small grain of sand. Then the Sun is a little ball of about an inch in diameter, and Earth orbits at the distance of 2 meters, Jupiter is a large grain pof sand orbiting at 11 meters, and the Solar system ends at 100 meters. The nearest star is at 1,000 km. 3) Galactic scale: wait for the Grand Tour after intermission.
So everything in the Universe really just versions of the “almost vacuum” - and incredibly, the best vacuum would be obtained by taking all the matter in the Universe, grinding it up to individual particles (such as protons or neutrons) and distributing these uniformly: Densities (ρ = 10N kg/m3) N medium 17 neutron star 13 Universe at end of electroweak (10-32 – 10-11 s after BigBang) 4 Pb 3 water 0 Earth atmosphere -18 best laboratory vacuum -27 the average Universe as a whole
Slide to keep in mind during the Tour It is a great adventure to contemplate the universe beyond man, to think of what it means without man - as it was for the great part of its long history, and as it is in the great majority of places. When this objective view is finally attained, and the mystery and majesty of matter are appreciated, to then turn the objective eye back on man viewed as matter, to see life as part of the universal mystery of greatest depth, is to sense an experience which is rarely described. Richard Feynman
Antiproton-proton annihilation As seen in a Hydrogen Bubble Chamber
The Andromeda Galaxy: 2 million light years away. The most distant object visible by naked eye (you have to know where to look, and find a really dark place, but the experience is very much worth it!) Note: for details on when and how to see Andromeda, see http://www.physics.ucla.edu/ ~huffman/m31.html
Each white dot represent a galaxy (with about 100 billions stars each) as determined by the measurement results of the “2df galaxy survey”. Note the distance scale.
Since most large-scale research is funded by taxpayers, all results must be made publicly available. And so YOU have achance to notice something in the Universe that NO ONE noticed before !!!!! Example: brief fly through the galaxies as observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and rendered by the World Wide Telescope from Microsoft Research
Stars orbiting a black hole (with a mass of 3.6 million Suns) in center of Milky Way. (You have to view this in the slide show mode to see the animation.)
Black hole (2.6 billion Suns) at center of M87, with globular clusters (the faint yellow cloud is the galaxy itself; globular clusters (see next slide) are the visible dots)
Only one thing comes to mind: • Psalm 19.1 • [For the choir director; a psalm by David.] The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky displays what his hands have made. (and this comes to mind of believer and unbeliever alike)
In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"? A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge. Carl Sagan in Pale Blue Dot
J.S.Bach as Amadeus • The Bach genetic phenomenon • Bach myths: BACH = 14 JSBACH = 41* even (from a doctoral Thesis [sic]): “the Unfinished fugue breaks off at bar 239 because 2+3+9 = 14” ! The central Theme of Amadeus (play/movie) applied to Bach (* Note: a quick thinking MENSAn pointed out that J+S+B+A+C+H = 43. But in the alphabet used at the time, I=J=9, giving sum of 41)